Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Nile River row: Could it turn violent?

July 7, 2010

Nileresize.jpg

The giggles started when the seventh journalist in a row said that his question was for Egypt’s water and irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasreddin Allam.

The non-Egyptian media gave him a bit of a hammering at last week’s talks in Addis Ababa for the nine countries that the Nile passes through.

Allam bared his teeth when a Kenyan journalist accused him of hiding behind “colonial-era treaties” giving his country the brunt of the river’s vital waters whether that hurt the poorer upstream countries or not.

“You obviously don’t know enough about this subject to be asking questions about it,” he snapped before later apologising to her with a kiss on the cheek.

Five of the nine Nile countries — Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya — last month signed a deal to share the water that is a crucial resource for all of them. But Egypt and Sudan, who are entitled to most of the water and can veto upstream dams under a 1929 British-brokered agreement, refused.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi have not signed yet either and analysts are divided on whether they will or not. Six Nile countries must sign the agreement for it to have any power but Egypt says even that wouldn’t change its mind. The five signatories — some of the world’s poorest countries — have left the agreement open for debating and possible signing for up to a year.

Tensions were clearly still running high after two days of negotiations in Addis and despite grinning around the table and constantly referring to each other as “my brother”, the ministers always seemed in danger of breaking into bickering.

When the Sudanese water minister said his country was freezing cooperation with the Nile Basin Initiative — the name given to the ten-year effort to agree on how to manage the river — Ethiopia’s water minister loudly protested to the media that his Sudanese colleague had not revealed that during their private meetings.

Highlighting the seriousness of the issue, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abul Naga, arrived in Addis Ababaon Wednesday to again meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

It’s no surprise that the spat is getting a lot of press in both Ethiopia and Egypt.

“Egypt is a gift of the Nile,” people like to say in a country that worshipped the river as a God in ancient times. “If Egypt is a gift of the Nile, then the Nile is a gift of Ethiopia,” Ethiopians shoot back with growing confidence.

And they have a point. More than 85 percent of the waters originate in Ethiopia, which relies on foreign aid for survival and sees hydropower dams as a potential cash cow and central to its plans to become one of Africa’s only power exporters.

But Egypt is not for turning. Almost totally dependent on the Nile for its agricultural output (a third of its economy) and already worried about climate change, it is determined to hold onto its 55.5 billion cubic metres of water a year, a seemingly unfair share of the Nile’s total flow of 84 billion cubic metres.

The Egyptians point out that they don’t benefit from rains like the upstream countries. Everybody, it seems, has valid points. Nobody is budging. Now some regional analysts are even saying the row could turn into the world’s first major water war and similar thoughts are being expressed in cafes from Cairo all the way upriver to Dar es Salaam.

So what next? The nine countries are due to meet again in Nairobi sometime between September and November. But where is the way forward? Who will blink first? And who really should? Could this bickering turn violent?

***

http://twitter.com/malonebarry

PHOTO CREDIT: A girl looks at water from the Nile flowing from a pump in the Manshiyet Nasser shantytown in eastern Cairo May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Comments

The treaty that has been signed during the period when the colonial power was in a position to impose their will on Ethiopian leaders never ratified by Ethiopians and the rest nations (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, etc). It has never been accepted and will not be accepted by Ethiopians. We don’t care if some groups came together and sign only for their own sake. Blue Nile is a God given resource for Ethiopians as Sudan has oil and Egypt possesses its own Pyramid and other resources. No one let me repeat it; no one has a legal base to stop Ethiopians and the rest people from using our precious resources. And for this, we will pay what ever the cost will be; we are a brave and reactive if some one tries to impose us, go to read our respected histories: who we are.

We will never repeat the mistake that has been made by our elders. From now on wards, no more for free we will give them water and they will provide us oil, it should be mutual. What surprised me is their cheap say, they said we don’t have water; we are totally dependent on it. Yes no doubt, every nation has its own recourses and ever nation is buying from others to satisfy its own need. This can be the only solution.
We Ethiopians call to Nile “Abbay” and Abbay is our blood!!!

Posted by Ethio | Report as abusive
 

The argument forwarded by the Egyptian which says the other countries have rain is so irrational for two essential reasons, first it is difficult to depend on 2 months rain[which is vulnerable to climate change]for the rest of the year while population is witnessed to skyrocket, on top of this Ethio is unlikely to feed its people with the amount of the rain she is getting now. Secondly, what we are asking is to use Nile in equitable share for the development of the country, in particular to build Dam and irrigation, which is rational quest.
What is perplexing about Egyptians is they have built the biggest dam without consulting even us, this shows their condescending attitude towards the rest of the riparian countries including [if not more] Sudan of course. It is an open secret that they have tried to include in this scenario Israel by trying to extend the Nile to Sinai desert..
As to ’29 and ’59 agreement Ethiopia neither recognized nor consulted.
Last but not least also are the Egyptians properly utilizing the water share they had enjoyed for the past God knows how many years

Posted by DawitHf | Report as abusive
 

Egypt must grow up. This is not 1929 and 1950. It is 2010 for God’s/Allah’s sake! More importantly, Egypt knows too well that Ethiopia doesn’t succumb to bullying. Instead, Egypt must, because its choices are limited, sit down and negotiate for a civilized and equitable outcome. The Nile is not Egypt’s river. It belongs to all of the countries that it flows through.

If Egypt is foolish enough to try to bully Africans, it better think twice. The Arab Republic of Egypt is an Arab country by choice. When it comes to history, Egypt and Ethiopia have had their share of battles in the nineteenth century; but I will defer that for another time.

The bottom line is to negotiate and share the Nile river; and make a win/win decision which Africa and the world at large can be proud of.

Posted by Ghirma | Report as abusive
 

DIPLOMACY is the key . every country through which this river flows has a need of the waters it contains. each country has a sovereign right to use the waters . you could argue that egypt owns the water that flows into its nile at its borders , but who is to say how much water that might be .( IF IT IS LESS THAN THE QUOTA , WHO WILL THEY SUE ) It certainly cannot own the nile where it flows through other countries along its route from the source, and so it follows that it does not own the water in it.

Egypt is at the end of a very long chain . The countries higher up the chain have a greater amount of power over how much water gets through. Egypt has built a dam so they can control the waters at their end.

Egypt should negotiate better terms for the other countries as without their agreement the nile might run dry when it gets to the border.

Relying on an agreement from the past might well suit the egyptians but it does not suit anyone else. Time for a new one. its not a matter of asking egypt its a matter of telling them. ( its a fact of life )

The world has changed. Egypt does not have the power to veto any new agreement. in fact i dont think the other countries need to consult Egypt as they are further up the supply chain..

Build your dams generate the power you need feed your people , thats your job . nothing else matters.

Ethopia needs to start doing what is good for them and their people and not worry about anyone else.

Water is the commodity that links these countries and the use and care of the resource is in all their hands . Holding back other countries who are attempting to help themselves and to modernise and create a justifable revenue stream is an error as building dams to generate power will help everyone in the long run .

“Egypt is the gift of Ethopia” might be nearer the truth

david and goliath Time for Ethopia to stand up and be counted.

Posted by pforde | Report as abusive
 

Dear Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, before you listen to the pleas of the Egyptians and curb the use of the waters of the Nile by Ethiopia, please take a helicopter tour of the numerous and opulent golf courses in Egypt. It is obvious that Egypt’s use of Nile waters has gone beyond the necessities of agriculture. Any suggestion of aggression by any nation over Nile waters should be summarily condemned by the world community. An equitable use of the waters by all those involved should be mediated in a rational manner by a neutral body, if there is one. The Egyptians should be given time to develop other sources of water to compensate for any loss of Nile water. They are wealthy enough to build desalination plants and use their abundant underground water resources. Any other approach, including reliance on a 1929 agreement that the British signed with themselves, is tantamount to a reinforcement of a pathetic human race that continue to rely on guns, intimidation and trickery to further the causes of a few at the expense of many. Let’s see if evolution has taken hold since the days of ape-dom.

Posted by PKetema | Report as abusive
 

Egypt seems to be confronting this issue with neocolonialism. Logically, Egypt should realize that according to the 1st principle of UNEP environmental law guidelines, nations with a common natural resource are obliged to cooperate in the utilization and sharing of the resources. However in these case Egypt is not ashamed in only partaking in the utilization and leaving the responsibility of conserving the Nile to the upstream countries. It is shameful to claim that upstream countries are receiving rain and therefore not entitled to Nile water because the same rain feeds the Nile and in order these rain requires a lot of sacrifices including conservation of forests and even eviction of citizens from water catchment areas.

Posted by bkimutai | Report as abusive
 

The signing of the Cooperative Framework Agreement by five Nile Basins states is a very interesting development, though, whether the agreement will survive Egypt’s ire is unclear. I just posted a two-part editorial on my International Water Law Project blog commenting on the new agreement: http://www.internationalwaterlaw.org/blo g/?p=268 and http://www.internationalwaterlaw.org/blo g/?p=271. I also include the text of the CFA.

Posted by gabrieleckstein | Report as abusive
 

This is an opportunity for creative diplomacy. The countries where the Nile originates need Egypt’s technol;ogy and skill to develop their agriculture, intensify food production and recover fertile land, forests and vegetation lost to decades of neglect, bad farming practises and under-development. Poverty reduction, reafforestation and development, supported by Egypt, can rehabilitate the catchment, restore water quality and enhance the flow of this magnificent river. Cooperation, not confrontation is the answer.

Posted by coenvanwyk | Report as abusive
 

The best move is for each country to begin by stating what is important to them and for the other countries to acknowledge that.

Lesser populations and better weather will certainly help in the long term, all parties MUST decide on a protocol for negotiation; if they don’t then someone will become angry, then fearful and then….take action that will lead to disaster for all.

My father told me a story from his childhood: There was a rope that hung from the sky and the farmers could pull the rope to change the weather to sun, rain or wind. All went well until two farmers arrived at the same time and one wanted sunshine for his crop to dry and the other wanted water for his crop to grow. They argued and fought over the rope. Between the two of them, they broke the rope and no one could use it again.

Everyone needs some sort of ‘win’ out of this. Without that happening, I fear that everyone will lose.

Posted by mansonc | Report as abusive
 

What is stopping the Ethiopians going ahead and building their dams? If I was the government, I would find foreign investment to put up some part of the funding needed and go ahead with the projects. If Egypt has a problem with that, it’s their problem only. Ethiopia simply cannot afford to wait and linger in poverty-it’s time to build its infrastructure and energy production grid.

Posted by pesheff | Report as abusive
 

5,123 years ago, the civilization called Egypt misunderstood at its inception in 3114 BC that the Nile was the gift to the Delta having run its long course from south east Afrika into Kigali and Kampala, the one visible head waters from which the four branches of the Nile flow from Burundi. That visible head waters between them is the Nile Guardian, Hapi, whose guardian star is Saiph, the right foot of Orion. The 5,125 year period actually comes to a close in 2012, corresponding to the new earth, the afterlife of Osiris, the High Guardian of the Nile from beginning to end. Who are the descendants of the ancients being called Egyptians? Whose responsibility was the sharing of the Nile? Who would have promised to share it with all peoples? Consider this from Chapter 125: As precepts to being good stewards:

I have not stopped (the flow of) water in its seasons.
I have not built a dam against flowing water.

So, the past is prologue !

“Hail to thee O Nile! Thou showest thyself in this land, coming in peace, giving life to Egypt: O Ammon, (thou) leadest night into day, a leading that rejoices the heart! Overflowing the gardens created by Ra, giving life to all animals; watering the land without ceasing. The way of heaven descending: Lover of food, bestower of corn, Giving light to every home, O Ptah! ” (Hymn to the Nile God)

Posted by Somosuno | Report as abusive
 

dear fellow egyptians,so much is being said and written
about abay;the so called nile.from the point of view of many egyptians,it seems egypt is the sole owner of this
river.well the truth is,as your minister of resources qouted”egypt is the gift of nile”,the same is as true as to say”god blessed ethiopia to be the main stream of abay/nile.”the birth place of nile”
working together for mutual interest needs bilateral co-operation and therefor,bolsters sustainable economic security.instead,egyptian officials seem to be always reluctant to see independent and prosperous Africa.god bless Africa and god bless abay.Let’s unite and share the fruits of nile.build dams and enjoy your share of this blessed river.

Posted by alula | Report as abusive
 

I can see that everyone is against egypt !!

As an Egyptian, i deplore this situation. I agree that we cannot rely on colonial treaties. These is completely unacceptable. However, the Nile does not exclusively belong to Egypt or Ethiopia or any other nile country. The nile is the property of the 9 countries. It is thus normal to find an equitable solution to this problem. I hope that we can increase cooperation between these countries. We need to change some mis-conceptions egyptians have about east african countries and vice versa. We are all on the same boat. We should all work together and develop together. Egypt should invest in East africa and increase cooperation. I believe that Ethiopia, Uganda or tanzania are much more important to Egypt that France or Italy and our ministers should go in East Africa to find solutions there. But I think together, we can achieve great things. We can develop the entire region.

Posted by omarhefny | Report as abusive
 

I hope this dispute gets settled, as it’s a possible harbinger of things to come if climate change continues. As others here have said, no one of the nine countries have a unilateral claim to the waters.

The Nile is not the only river in dispute. For example, the Mekhong River, which has its headwaters in China (where it is called the “Lancang River”), serves not only China but the riverine countries downstream, i.e., Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, all of which are heavily dependent on those waters for agriculture. China has been . . . “less than cooperative” on the issue, building dams apace, apparently with scant regard of any negative consequences for the other four countries. Those countries, of course, can’t begin to stand up to China, making it the bully in the neighborhood

That said, China has its *own* perfectly legitimate domestic needs of those waters, such as for human consumption, agriculture, and power generation. It doesn’t help that THE staple food in China is rice — the most water-intensive agricultural crop in the world.

While the Nile upstream countries may be at a disadvantage in a dispute with Egypt, as the downstream countries in Southeast Asia are with China, a refugee problem could develop were the situation to become dire enough. None of us can reasonably believe or expect that people will sit idly by while they’re dying of thirst, starvation, or both.

Perhaps some readers are unaware that questions of water and food supplies are an increasing concern for military and intelligence planners in the West and other places.

Some of the Nile countries have coastlines (as Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam do along the Mekhong). I wonder if desaltification of seawater might offer a partial answer for any country with a coast.

This kind of shortage is yet another strong sign we simply have too many people already on the planet, though I have no idea what to suggest for that; no answer seems acceptable to everyone.

Posted by MekhongKurt | Report as abusive
 

Population has increased significantly in Africa in the last century. This has made , water more and more vital resource for survival of nations and entire communities. may be the answer to the, water shortage, lies in committing controlling and stabilising the reproduction of the human population.
Think about the population size of Ethiopia, Egypt, Rep.of Kongo, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, before 100 years ago. And think about the population size of these same countries in 20 years.

Copying the one child policy of china could safe this part of Africa from water wars in the futer

Posted by Waryaa | Report as abusive
 

I know Ethiopia well, and have many friends there. I have also seen the urgent need for permanent clean water and sanitation. I think that the discussions need to be much more open minded.

One thing that Egypt has that most of the other nine countries don’t have is access to the sea. Consideration should be given to the use of desalination plants for water provision. Many countries have that technology, in addition to lots of experience growing crops which require less water: Israel, Australia, and the US can all provide examples. There will be good African case studies too.

Citizens in all countries need an agreement – urgently. Using treaties developed with former colonial powers is no defence. In fact, it’s laughable. The resources could be shared on a per capita basis (and the source of the Nile is in Rwanda, not Ethiopia).

What we are witnessing here is an utter disregard for long-term planning. Ethiopia is going ahead with building new dams, anyway, although the Gibe 3 development in south west Ethiopia will have considerable impact on local tribes.

We need an enlightened east African solution. The world is watching.

Posted by odysseylady | Report as abusive
 

It seems to me that if there is a certain water flow rate entering a country and a larger water flow rate leaving the country that the country ought to have rights to at least a good share of the increase and at most all of that increase. So as long as the amount of water leaving the country is as high as the amount of water entering the country then there should be no problem. Egypt, of course, adds very little water and depends very greatly on that water. It seems to me that would put Egypt in the conciliatory friends position, at best, or that of a beggar, at worst.

What I worry about is that Egypt has American military technology, as an American-negotiated parity to Israeli power. Since those weapons and training were intended to provide neutralizing balance with Israel, it would be unfair to turn them against Ethiopia, even as a negotiation ploy.

Posted by RobinGreen | Report as abusive
 

Could this be what brings about the situation spoken of in Isaiah 11:15? See also chapter 19

The tongue of the nile being dried up due to being struck in the 7 streams that feed it?

Posted by AMMI2 | Report as abusive
 

Egypt cannot claim to own the Nile. The sink cannot own the source.
All parties must put arrogance aside and look respectfully at each other’s needs to come an equitable solution. Threats of war will not solve the problem.
During my very first visit to the source of the Nile in Uganda, I was surprised to see a small Egyptian military post. I wondered what the significance of that post was. Now it seems apparent that it represents a warning to others what Egypt will do if others do not give in to its position. It does not need to come to that as there can be no military solution.
Mutual respect is the key.
Robubo

Posted by Robubo | Report as abusive
 

The river Niles run the longest in the Sudan. The Sudan is the natural home of The Nile, Blue and White together. It makes no sense that someone at the end of the stream (Egypt) makes the claim that these great rivers are nobody’s but theirs alone! It is time that Egypt wakes up, think carefully and begin to negotiate with other users of the waters of the niles like real comrades. We no longer live in the era of myth and inconsiderate claims of common gift of life to all humankind. If the nile is a gift, it is so to everyone who uses it or needs its waters to embetter their lives. If the Niles are gifts of God or nature to mankind, then no one is excluded to enjoy that gift freely. There should not be greed or domination over it.

Posted by orowiyp | Report as abusive
 

Nile water in new projects largely serves to increase the wealth of rich farmers in all Nile countries, and of foreign agro-companies and banks.

The water-bickering between Ethiopia and Egypt hides a much more urgent need for Nile water to be diverted away from large, mechanized farms to many more, small, labour intensive farms.

Small farmers are the most undernourished in Africa. Their hunger is not caused by food shortage or high food prices, but because most years they are pushed out of the economy by the production of large farms.

Wanna fix poverty? Take the Nile water away from the elites and mega-projects of both Ethiopia and Egypt and Sudan, and give it back to the poor in all Nile-countries.

Posted by PieterSmit1 | Report as abusive
 

The first and most important thing Egypt should do is stop instantly her old age destabilizations foreign policy towards Ethiopia. We Ethiopians know very well while Egypt is trying to keep her words diplomatic as much as possible in the negotiation room is also working hard to destabilize Ethiopia beneath the surface of negotiation.

Don’t antagonize the Ethiopians any further, it is enough what Egypt have done against Ethiopia thorough out history.

Posted by Bisrat | Report as abusive
 

Ethiopia is in hot water. Why? because Ethiopians do not really understand the cunning nature of Egyptians. Frustrated Ethiopia will eventually fall to the tricks of Egypt because of only one fact. Egyptians do outsmart Ethiopians and they have proven that time and again through out history. Egyptian intelligence agency is way organized than its Ethiopian counterpart.
Sorry to say this but Ethiopia should just zip its mouth and focus on low level nile development. The level of deception and treachery on the Egyptian side could never be matched.

Posted by Gedle | Report as abusive
 

Egypt has been trying to destroy Ethiopia since biblical times and Ethiopia and Ethiopians had endured that and will in the future. For Egypt, abandon your colonial misdeed and deal with Ethiopia to find a genuine solution so that Abay river will benefit all the concerning nations.

Posted by damotew | Report as abusive
 

My comment on Nile Water is that this is time that the Nile countries to make history. We have to show up our intelligence here on how to equitably share the scarce resource.

Came on men! Rather than talking about the past war history achieved by each country (Egypt and Ethiopia) let us make a difference by bringing a keen solution to the problems we are facing. I do hope that No Egyptian say that let the Ethiopian fellow die out by hunger, I don’t care! Similarly, No Ethiopian say let Egyptian go hell, if there is No Nile. So what? It is then in the shoulders of all the erudite in the Nile basin country to provide the most suitable solution… called win/win… or what? So politicians should set their mind and seek the scientific solution thinking that every body should benefit from the benefit…. Sharing the loss that may happen…

This is a science Era that we have to think and work hard to equitably share the resource and grow together. Apart from that the mind of war could not and never work forever and not beneficial to anybody.

For some of the commentary, I think they know who were and are the Ethiopians… This is the country of African courage, never ever given hand to Colonialists, even, and foreign aggression; toppled down and wiped out the then Italian aggression. I know also that Egypt is a great country who owes great histories.

But talking all about that and this will have of no value and is absurd. Thinking in the colonial era, while living in 21st century, is just an obsolete idea whose formula could also not work any more.

Come-on! you politicians!… think, think, think and not make mistakes…. we are Africans and let us show up the world our ability by resolving such a huge and old age problem scientifically… not with war. O! Politicians! Think that as if you are sending your child to be killed in War… Avoid the mind of War… We have other solution… we can make it…. “If there is a big problem, there is a big solution”. Let us follow the best solution which we can get.

Please! Please, make your mind for change….

Posted by DAWIT | Report as abusive
 

We should be happy for Ethioia doing that finally.The Middle Eastern not care about the real Africa people from the heart.Why? we know they know where they coming from. We must be civilized & help the new Generation for any problem. War is not the answer.That will destroy what we plan for..Be smart Egyptian!!! Ethiopa might Be very Dangerous if u do not let us do what we want to our real Nile.We should this 40 years ago by now Ethiopia no one call her 3rd world..our enemies are so stupid they do not want us to be the richest for us & our neighbor countries..war is ugly..keep talking..

Posted by Waterone | Report as abusive
 

Egypt and Ethiopia need to realise that both their positions are not sustainable, they need to reach some sort of compromise which both countries can live with.

War is not the answer as no doubt Ethiopia would lose any confrontation. Ethiopians on this site act as though Ethiopia is a happy and united country, it has many internal pressures not just waiting to explode and drag the rest of the HOA into the conflict.

Posted by Abdisamad | Report as abusive
 

This conflict can’t turn violent because the main actors, Egypt and Ethiopia, don’t share a common border. When I wrote my thesis about the Nile water back in 1960/61, it was already obvious that the Sadd-el Aali reservoir could not be filled if Ethiopia and Uganda would consume more water than their share according to the 2nd Nile Waters Agreement. I therefore criticized the High Dam project and voted for an alternative series of small dams along the river.

Since the Aswan reservoir is silting up quickly, Egypt will anyway not be able to store the originally planned volume of water. This will allow Ethiopia and Sudan to consume more than their agreed share.

The situation resembles the problem of the Tigris river in the Fertile Crescent. Turkey is forging ahead with its dam plans which will deprive Syria and Iraq of a lot of water they feel entitled to. Nothing they can do: big bozo Turkey cannot be challenged.

Ethiopia will follow this example, and Sudan and Egypt will have to accept the facts. No more golf courses downstream and drip irrigation in agriculture instead of old-fashioned basin irrigation. If that’s not enough, many fellaheen will have to change profession and find new jobs outside farming.

The best Egypt could do is helping Ethiopia’s rapidly rising population to improve its mostly biblical farming practices. Due to climate change, the highlands are getting drier and hotter; camels and goats may be better suited than the prevailing cattle ranching monoculture; olive trees and other mediterranean dryland plants could replace traditional crops. Maize (corn) should be avoided because it consumes too much water.

Posted by Pinco | Report as abusive
 

Nile belongs to all the countries through which it passes. Its 85 % belongs to ETHIOPIA because it is 85 % source of it. No body will stop Ethiopia from making use of the water which is flowing in its territory. Egypt has nothing to do with it. It is Ethiopia’ natural resource as Egypt has plenty of desert areas as natural resource. The funniest thing I constantly hear of the Egyptians is the fact that Ethiopia has enough rainfall and hence doesn’t have to use the Nile for irrigation and other things. I don’t want to say more on this as it is the silliest idea human beings have ever tried to convince others. It is like saying “Hey Saudi Arabia, give us your gold because you have enough oil!” The main problem with Ethiopia in making use of the Nile is poverty not Egypt. Trust me ones Ethiopia (and other countries as well)surpluses or atleast comparative to Egypt in economy and political power, no one in whatever name they come will not stop it from utilizing its gift of God. The Egyptians should be thankful of the people of Ethiopia for not using even a litter of water from the Nile so far. But in the future (in the near future actually) Ethiopia will be able to use its natural resource to feed its ever growing population. Nile will never be exceptional!

Posted by Ethion | Report as abusive
 

Gosh, it seems that Egypt and other Islamic countries have real life problems separate and apart from the contrived scenarios concerning Israel and Zionism.

Welcome to the real world.

Posted by phlogiston | Report as abusive
 

An agreement made by Egypt, The Sudan and The UK is meant to be binding to the two/Three countries. There is no way or logic for an agreement made between country A & B to be binding For countries E, F, G …. which were not invited to the agreement in the first place.Countries which are now claiming their right over the river were there before the signing of the so called treaty. The fact that sudan has oil and ethiopia does’nt won’t entitle ethiopia for a free oil from the sudan.So we need to be reasonable. evrey country has a right to make use of its own resources.

Posted by Gebre | Report as abusive
 

The colonization was over. The isssue of Blue Nile was also the unforgettable scar of Colonazation; however, Ethiopia was not colonazed by anyone. So, why this old scar should not over when ITS game was over? Egyptians!, smooth dealers you are, the wiser you’ll be. But if you want to play the dirty game(war),we are really natured of it. Regardless of our internal problems we will play it best. You know us,the world knows us better than that I can say. We locked as exitless inmate,as if we had not had any port. But what we can do is using our every natural resources including OUR Blue Nile. But I really wish you all the best of luck.

Posted by asas | Report as abusive
 

The only truly diplomatic solution that isn’t going to cause trouble (at least, initially) that I can see is to survey each country’s actual water needs (without counting rainfall – rain is too unreliable to be counted as a water source – but offsetting for other water sources (aquifers, other river systems that are regularly used for water, and other permanent and reliable sources of water) in the other countries) then divide the water usage up based on that. While it might not make everyone happy, it would at least cover their needs – and let’s be honest, extra water where it isn’t needed means that someone’s missing out.
With that being said, this won’t be over until everyone stops thinking of only their own interests and starts learning how to be considerate and fair.

Posted by dartigen | Report as abusive
 

Firs thing is surely to set a up Nile Fund using the money ex President Mubarak has which belongs to Egypt

Posted by JamesRi | Report as abusive
 

Egypt is facing a water shortage and cannot produce enough food to feed its population. It is one of the largest grain importers in the world.
I can understand their concerns about this treaty being rewritten. They cannot reasonably be expected to abandon farmland to the desert and make their existence even more precarious.

Posted by AnnaHomminga | Report as abusive
 

I have a latest development to tell you guys!!! Ethiopia just started an ambitious effort to build a Hydro electric power plant with a capacity of 5000 Megawatts on the river Abay which is a major tributary to the river Nile!!!

Posted by Fetesh | Report as abusive
 

the wars of this century will be about water. This has been spoken about in every N Africa Continetal seminar I have ever been to This is ‘old news’ and there is there no solution . Nasser tried for a PAN EGYPTIAN region but Dulles and the rest stopped in in 1959. He died wanting it. As the Nile drys or shifts the need for the Meds water increases and the Wars of Water will commence.. 2011 wait till 2019 and it will be over.

Posted by bobpaladin | Report as abusive
 

why Egypt is asked to cooperate and negotiate on the Nile water share so tediously, I hope all the riparian should to develop their share and let the Egyptian come by their own way. I know Egypt’s 97% dependence on the Nile water but it doesn’t mean 97% is their share. the have a right to use but also must respect others right to utilize the mighty river.

It is not that much because of the Egyptian are much influential in all history,but the upper riparian ( specially Ethiopia) was quite able to have one season rain-fed agriculture per year and can feed its nation except some dry years, while now a days it is not and more is required. And I hope the Egyptians won’t enjoy the same time, instead they shall have new strategy.

Posted by wondatawu | Report as abusive
 

Egyptians have benefited from the Nile alone for quite a long period. Its high time that we put behind the colonial treaty and have all the countries of the Nile benefit from it. Its unwise for countries like Tanzania, Uganda and the rest to fail to utilize the Nile while its people lack drinking water and water to irrigate their farms. If this treaty does not go through, I would expect the 5 countries to go ahead and use it…there was no point asking member countries afterall.

Posted by Mutalex | Report as abusive
 

Eithopians should be the last people on earth to take about colonial treaties. You occupy ogaden according to a colonial treaty by the british when they left. eithopia has been interfering in neighbouring countries particularly somalia and invading them countless times. Killing innocent people.

Now they want to talk about respect? give me a break. Eithopians should practice what they preach.

Posted by randalthor | Report as abusive
 

Hahahaha, you idiots breed like rabbits and now the water is running out. Not to bright, eh ?

Posted by Ratt | Report as abusive
 

The last comment, while poorly worded, gets to the heart of the problem!
Even if reason prevails and you solve the water division issue, it’s only a temporary solution if your population continues to explode.
Think of what Africa will be like when your grandchildren are old and the population has doubled or tripled!

(posted by an American who was an African Studies major in college)

Posted by sanitynotwar | Report as abusive
 

Amazing,in most of the ethnic and regional conflict that has and will come up in Africa, whether in the form of land ownership,resource ownership,colonial agreements, Britain will be the cause because of the way they muddled through handling of treaties and conflict during colonial era times. I propose that Britain should now spend much more diplomatic capital in helping negotiate new and equitable compromises to solve problems such as water distribution from the Nile.

Posted by Humility101 | Report as abusive
 

Water will become the next oil market. Controling that market will be a matter of life and death for the countries involved. Already international corporation are buying up water rights and the water princes will be even wealthier than the oil princes of today. Food production even population control will be limited by the growing lack of usable water in the future.

Posted by ChrisBlackwell | Report as abusive
 

There are enough food, water and energy resources in the world to benefit all people and living things. The problem is the distribution: in the USA, people eat themselves to death. In Ethiopia, people starve to death. Egypt wants 2/3 of the Nile water while countries upstream don’t have enough for lack of storage basins. The peoples in the middle live off the Nile. If dams are built upstream, there won’t be any fish and silt in the river anymore for those further down its course.

Water reservoirs for agriculture can be built and filled without damming the river. A portion of the water can be channelled into a basin. All countries along the Nile have a lot of sun. Electricity can be generated with solar collector stations for export, with localized collectors for domestic use. Water can be pumped from storage basins to areas subject to draught via water pipelines. Lower lying regions bordering the sea can use desalination plants to produce potable water for consumption and agriculture.

Food can be traded against other commodities, which will give each country an export and import product.

Americans should do as Michelle said: Eat more vegetables, preferably locally grown ones – or from people’s own victory garden – that will cause them to consume less food, which leaves more for export. Other foods can be imported. The US can export technology to reach a just distribution of the world’s resources instead of fighting war to enrich itself unduly from the death of others.

The collected world governments should make an effort to solve real problems in constructive, effective ways instead of starting wars and blowing the world’s resources up in the air for no more reasons than greed, false prestige and illegitimate so-called national interests.

Redistribution of the world’s resources will be the greatest guarantee of world peace and stability. The primary obstacle is greed and other false political ambitions of western nations, up front the USA, not the NIle or any other scarce resources, . The same way that children have to learn not to overpower and hit each other, nations of the world have to learn not to overpower each other with war.

Posted by 1964 | Report as abusive
 

If Ethiopia damns the Nile, they will be no better than the Chinese damning the Mekong delta which provides water and ancient rice farming lifestyles to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam. Just because a river begins in a country doesn’t mean they have exclusive rights to it. What man owns the world as to deprive all others of its bounty? Less people is the answer not more greed; the world cannot support everyone having 9 babies. People must start taking some responsibility for the problems overpopulation is causing the world, including pollution and resource scarcity. Enough babies!

Posted by davideconnolly | Report as abusive
 

The reason all of this is becoming a greater problem is that all these countries including Egypt have populations that have gone out of control. Too many mouths to feed. They need to take urgent action over this or there will be war over the water.

Posted by sallycw | Report as abusive
 

It’s strange that the Egyptians appear so supportive of the British-established way of doing things – does this mean that Cairo will be returning the Suez canal to its British owners / creators, along with 50 years of compensation, interest payments etc?

If not, one might accuse Egypt of hypocrisy. Certainly, if for instance Ethiopia were to ‘nationalise’ the Blue Nile in contravention of the 1929 agreement it would only be following Nasser’s example…

Posted by khartoumboy | Report as abusive
 

i dont understand how a stupid treaty can be created on how to use a resource that doesn’t belong to you. This neo colonial treaty should be trashed. Its because of these treaties that Ethiopia has had a hard time in the past. The water starts in Ethiopia, so therefore it’s Ethiopia’s water. Get it.

Posted by BlowMack | Report as abusive
 

So, the world may see the first major water war, but we still do virtually nothing about climate change.

Posted by candide08 | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •